Spatial scale and place field stability in a modular grid-to-place cell model of the dorsoventral axis of the hippocampus. Lyttle D, Gereke B, Lin KL and Fellous JM.
Hippocampus. In press 2013
The rodent hippocampus and entorhinal cortex contain spatially-modulated cells that serve as the basis for spatial coding. Both medial entorhinal grid cells and hippocampal place cells have been shown to encode spatial information across multiple spatial scales that increase along the dorsoventral axis of these structures. Place cells near the dorsal pole possess small, stable, and spatially selective firing fields, while ventral cells have larger, less stable and less spatially selective firing fields. One possible explanation for these dorsoventral changes in place field properties is that they arise as a result of similar dorsoventral differences in the properties of the grid cell inputs to place cells. Here we test the alternative hypothesis that dorsoventral place field differences are due to higher amounts of non-spatial inputs to ventral hippocampal cells. We use a computational model of the entorhinal-hippocampal network to assess the relative contributions of grid scale and non-spatial inputs in determining place field size and stability. In addition, we assess the consequences of grid node firing rate heterogeneity on place field stability. Our results suggest that dorsoventral differences in place cell properties can be better explained by changes in the amount of non-spatial inputs, rather than by changes in the scale of grid cell inputs, and that grid node heterogeneity may have important functional consequences. The observed gradient in field size may reflect a shift from processing primarily spatial information in the dorsal hippocampus to processing more non-spatial, contextual and emotional information near the ventral hippocampus.